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Cooking oils tend to get their name from the nuts, seeds, fruits, plants, or cereals they're extracted from.
They're characterised by their high-fat content, including saturated fat, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Consuming too much saturated fat - more than 20g for women and 30g for men per day - makes the body produce cholesterol that increases the risk of heart disease.
Fat molecules are made of chains of fatty acids that are held together with single bonds (saturated) or double bonds (unsaturated.)
There are three types of fatty acids: Short, medium, and long chain.
Studies show that coconut oil increases harmful cholesterol (LDL -low-density lipoprotein) and beneficial cholesterol (HDL - high-density lipoprotein). They also contain a high amount of lauric acid, which raises HDL levels in the blood more than LDL levels.
But lauric acid is not that healthy. It is categorized as a C12 fatty acid and is at the limit of a medium-chain fatty acid. Roughly 70% of C12s act as long-chain fatty acids, which are stored in the liver as fat, and over time, can cause nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Experts advise opting for an oil lower in saturated fat and higher in other types of fats that are healthy in moderation.
Polyunsaturated fat (including Omega 3 and 6) and monounsaturated fat reduce cholesterol levels. They also provide essential fatty acids and vitamins.
Olive oil is known for being the healthiest of plant oils. Olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids, which contain vitamins and minerals, and polyphenols.
Olive oil can decrease the risk of heart disease by 15 %. It also has beneficial effects on gut microbiota. Extra virgin olive oil can be beneficial in preventing cancer and type 2 diabetes. It is especially beneficial when it's not cooked.
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